Originally developed by James McCartney in 1996 and now an open source project, SuperCollider is a software package for the synthesis and control of audio in real time. Currently, it represents the state of the art in the field of audio programming: there is no other software available that is equally powerful, efficient or flexible. Yet, SuperCollider is often approached with suspicion or awe by novices, but why?
One of the main reasons is the use of a textual user interface. Furthermore, like most software packages that deal with audio, SuperCollider prerequisites a series of skills, ranging from expertise in analog/digital signal processing, to musical composition, to computer science. However, as the beginner overcomes these initial obstacles and understands the powerful flexibility of SuperCollider, what once were seen as weaknesses become its strengths. SuperCollider's features also mean versatility in advanced software applications, generality in terms of computer modelling, and expressivity in terms of symbolic representations.
This book aims at providing a brief overview of, and an introduction to, the SuperCollider programming environment. It also intends to informally present, by employing SuperCollider, a series of key notions relevant to what is broadly referred to as computer music.
Andrea Valle is a researcher/aggregate professor in film, photography and television at the University of Turin-DAMS, and is active as a musician and composer. He has been a SuperCollider user since 2005.